Don’t be fooled by those who throw their hands up in the air saying “There’s nothing we can do about it!” when it comes to the state budget and other issues we care about. There are things everyone can do right now –none of us should wait until the next election to act.
To clarify exactly what I mean, I’ve broken various advocacy tasks into lists by Minimal, Medium, and More effort involved. EVERY single one of these is important!
If it is minimal effort task we need more people doing it to have results. There are far more of us who care than any one of us knows. You don’t have to do all of these but you can return to this list and do one any time you are able. So if you are new to this or skeptical that it will work, you can start small and as Woody Guthrie said “Take it easy, but take it.”
Minimal effort advocacy:
- Give yourself credit for what you do! You are reading this now and that is much more than some. You deserve feeling good about making an effort, so own that.
- Follow Together Oklahoma on Facebook or Twitter (If you aren’t on either this doesn’t apply)
- Share our posts or re-tweet us. If you are on Facebook and Twitter this is easy as pie!
- Sign up for the TOK weekly email or read the weekly TOK blog-post on togetherok.org . What you are reading right now is on togetherok.org as a shareable blog post.
- Register to vote (If you’re already registered give someone else the registration form.)
- Look up who your two state legislators are and put their contact info in your phone.
- Send a message to your legislator via form letter or form email. Personalized communications have more impact but these are better than nothing.
- Send your legislator a brief personalized email about a specific bill. Your email can literally say “As your constituent living at _______ I am writing to ask that you please vote no/yes on bill_____ that will do _____ for/to me and my family.”
- Tell at least one other person that you are doing advocacy with Together Oklahoma or some other organization. Don’t start out with someone who strongly disagrees with you! Start out with a friend who cares but who may need a little encouragement to do more than complain.
- Remind someone who is scared about Oklahoma that they have the power to help make things change. Maybe the person who needs the reminder is you, so write yourself a note, set an alarm in your phone, or get a tattoo if that is what you need to do. (Okay, tatoos are not actually minimal effort but hey, you do you.)
If you’re ready to be engaged in a way that that requires just a smidgen more effort, these Medium effort tasks are for you. You don’t have to do all of them to be effective. Do what suits you best and do it with a team if that is what works well for you.
Medium effort advocacy:
- Attend a Together Oklahoma meeting or the meeting of another effective advocacy organization. Yes that is right! “The world is run by those who show up” so if you show up, you are doing more than most. Thank yourself! (Find our events on togetherok.org)
- Sign up via the Together Oklahoma membership form so we can know where you are and what you might want to do. This isn’t a binding contract but it gives us a good way to connect with you.
- Volunteer to help with a Together Oklahoma event. We have a long list of volunteer opportunities from setting up chairs to giving presentations and everything in between. We can do more when we all pitch in. Like grandma said, “Many hands make light work.”
- Accept our invitation to join Slack after you have filled out the TOK membership form. You can find out all about why Slack is better than email HERE. Other than face to face meetings, much of the magic of Together Oklahoma organizing happens on Slack.
- Attend a “Day at the Capitol” event with Together Oklahoma or another organization. These events are a fun and easy introduction to directly communicating with your legislators face-to-face. Usually these events include scheduling meet-ups with legislators in advance, carpools, gathering places, talking points, professional advocacy coaching, plans for lunch, photo shoots, and follow-ups to debrief and keep holding legislators accountable. Some Capitol days are planned better than others and planners will often welcome help from volunteers.
Ready to take a deeper plunge? Here are some ways you can have more individual impact instead of just the group impact you will have with min and med tasks. More effort tasks demand that you get serious about self care and advocate/personal life balance. You can “Go big or go home!” but remember that it is actually important to actually go home at some point and get recharged for the next opportunity.
More effort advocacy:
- Develop a one on one relationship with one or both of your legislators. If you really want them to understand where you are coming from, then they have to know you.
- Get to know legislative assistants because they are the gatekeepers to your legislators.
- Join a Together Oklahoma committee to do Events planning, Communications, Research, and Outreach to your fellow Oklahomans. All you have to do to join is fill our our membership form and someone will contact you.
- Offer to help coordinate parts of the Together Oklahoma team on either a state-wide or local basis. There are many ways that you can help us help each other. If you have the time, Oklahoma needs your help!
- Keep a constant trickle of information flowing. Touching base with your legislators and your TOK team members as little as once a week can be much more impactful that one big event per month.
- Remember that a leader is someone who can deliver a following. Sharing the Together Oklahoma tools, like our weekly blog post, every week establish you as someone dependable who can help lead the way.
- Practice good self-care so you can be able to stay the course. We need you take care of you and remind others to do so too.
There are lots of other ways to get involved but these ones are important and you can do one today. Like I said before, you don’t have to do all of these, but as Oklahomans we have a responsibility to at least be doing some of these. You already know that though, don’t you? I know you do because you are reading this right now. Thanks!
Thanks for doing what you can do, we are in this together, and we’ll see you all soon!